The family of Naya Rivera released a heartfelt statement after her death was confirmed on Monday, July 13. She was only 33.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” they wrote in a statement released to Deadline by Rivera’s manager Gladys Gonzalez on Tuesday, July 14. “While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister.”
“Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for your commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya,” the statement continued. “We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her friends, colleagues, and fans for your continuous support. Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department shared the tragic update about her passing five days after she vanished during a boating trip in Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, whom she shares with ex Ryan Dorsey.
“Based on the location where the body was found, we are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Sheriff Ayub, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department official, said during a press conference.
“She was found in a north eastern portion of the lake, near the surface of the water,” he said. “The depth of the water in that area is between 35 and 60 feet deep and there’s heavy brush and trees along the lake bed there.”
There was no indication of foul play and her cause of death was later determined to be an accidental drowning, according to the coroner’s report.
Rivera’s mother, Yolanda Rivera, father, George Rivera, and brother, Mychal Rivera, as well as ex Ryan, were spotted on the dock days before her body was found. They were seen embracing and talking with the search team as they scoured the location for any clues. The Glee alum was first reported missing on July 8.
The Ventura Country Sheriff Department previously told In Touch the star’s only child was found by himself on a pontoon boat she rented at 1 p.m. that afternoon. Her 4-year-old told investigators he and his mother went swimming, but Rivera never got back in the boat.
“[Rivera] boosted him onto the deck from behind,” according to Ayub in their latest press conference. “[Josey] told investigators he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
To locate Rivera in the following days, investigators utilized dozens of personal, water crafts and helicopters to conduct a “methodical” search.
It’s been an unimaginably difficult time for her loved ones. Rivera’s family is “completely devastated,” a source exclusively told In Touch.
“That little boy worshipped his mom, he loved her so much,” the insider shared. “The thought of him waiting for his mom to get back into the boat, or what he may have witnessed is simply terrifying. Josey is still asking for his mommy.”
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